The Bottom Line
Feb 12 2013 - With a street price of just $90, the ASRock Z77 Pro3 is a very capable board for any system builder on a budget that will wants solid performance but is willing to have a bit less in terms of integrated features. It may not have as many slots or peripheral connectors but it is on par with most boards used in consumer prebuilt systems. Overclocking is even an option for power users but it isn't as robust as more expensive boards.
- Excellent Price
- Solid and Stable Performance
- Support For LGA 1155 and LGA 775 Coolers
- Lacks Many Peripheral Ports Beyond USB
- Could Really Come With More Accessories
- Mediocre Overclocking Performance
- Intel LGA 1155 Socket
- Intel Z77 Chipset
- Supports DDR3 1066 to 1600MHz Standard, 1866 to 2800MHz Overclocked Memory Speeds
- Four 240-pin DDR3 DIMM Slots
- One PCI Express 3.0 x16, One PCI Express 2.0 x16 (at x4 Lanes), One PCI Express 2.0 x1, Two PCI Slots
- Two SATA III (6.0Gbps) and Four SATA II (3.0Gbps) with RAID 0/1/5/10 Support and Smart Response Technology
- Three USB 3.0 (Two External, One Internal), Seven USB 2.0 (Four External, Three Insternal), HDMI, VGA, Gigabit Ethernet
- Realtek ALC892 HDA 7.1 Audio
- Two SATA III Cables, I/O Panel Plate, Software CD
- AMI UFI BIOS
Review - ASRock Z77 Pro3
Feb 12 2013 - Similar to their previous Z68 Pro3 board, the ASRock Z77 Pro3 is targeting the budget oriented general purpose system building. It may not have as many features built into the board, but it is certainly sufficient for the average user and offers a solid level of performance as well. Thankfully the board has received a number of small upgrades rather than just moving from the Z68 to Z77 chipset.
The two big improvements for the Z77 Pro3 over the past Z68 Pro are the slots and USB ports. The changes are both modest but welcome. The Z77 Pro3 now features two PCI-Express x16 slots to the original's single slot. Now to be fair, only the primary x16 slot is PCI-Express 3.0 compatible and the secondary slot only runs just one quarter of the total lanes (4 vs. 16) which will mean reduced performance for any card in this slot. In addition, there is now only one PCI-Express x1 meaning it has one less potential PCI-Express slot. The other minor change is the move to have an additional USB 3.0 header on the motherboard for a case port but it still has the same number of total USB slots as the Z68 Pro3. It still lacks many other connectors such as FireWire or eSATA which are reserved for more expensive models. One disappointment is the removal of the DVI-D output that existed on the previous board but this digital video connector is becoming less common now.
Like the previous chipset and board, the Z77 Pro3 supports Lucidlogix Virtu graphics virtualization but now it uses the MVP version. The main addition to this is the ability to set Virtual vsync when combing the integrated graphics with a dedicated graphics card. This helps to smooth out the display output so that partial frames are not displayed for a smoother overall image without tearing. Intel's Smart Response Technology makes its return which is a great way for those who want some improved boot times and application loading by combining a small solid state drive for caching of a standard hard drive.
New features to the Z77 also include the ability to support Intel's Rapid Start technology and Smart Connect. These two features are less popular but may be worth considering for some. The Rapid Start technology uses a driver and a small partition on the hard drive to provide even faster sleep recovery. Smart Connect allows certain programs and functions to periodically run when the system is put into a low powered sleep. More information on Smart Connect can be found at Intel regarding how it works.
Overclocking is still supported by the ASRock Z77 Pro3 either through the UEFI BIOS menus or the ASRock eXtreme Tuner utility provided on the software CD. It should be noted that the overclocking will only work with a K series unlocked processor. Overclocking is modest compared to more expensive boards as this has limited cooling and power features. This is something that would be better served by the higher priced Extreme series of boards. Still, with proper cooling and features, it should be possible to achieve a one Gigahertz speed increase with some processors. Speaking of cooling, the board does offer mounting holes for use with older Socket 775 and 1156 in addition to Socket 1155 coolers.